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Over 2,000 sign our letter to Primark

01 December 2009, Latest news

Over 2,000 sign our letter to Primark CEO Paul Marchant calling for an end to sweatshop exploitation.

War on Want's letter to Primark CEO Paul Marchant now has over 2,000 signatures calling for an end to Primark's exploitation of the sweatshop workers who produce its clothes. Primark has ignored their plight - but with your help we will tell Primark and its shareholders that enough is enough.

On 4 December 2009, Primark's parent company will hold its Annual General Meeting in Central London, and we will be there to hand over our letter and deliver our message that sweatshop exploitation has to stop.

Thousands more have already signed up to War on Want's Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign that calls on the goverment to end sweatshop labour. Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops is also endorsed by television star Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen and clothes designer Betty Jackson. Among other backers are TV personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew.

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Two thousand stand up to Primark

29 November 2009, Latest news

Our letter to Primark CEO Paul Marchant now has over 2,000 signatures calling for an end to Primark's exploitation of the sweatshop workers who produce its clothes. Primark has ignored their plight - but with your help we can tell Primark and its shareholders that enough is enough.

We will deliver the letter, co-signed by thousands of you, to shareholders at the AGM of Primark's parent company on 4 December. We want to make it clear once and for all that their exploitation has to stop.

It's not too late to add your name - or ask your friends to add theirs. Your support has already got some of Britain's worst exploiters to acknowledge the problem. But now we need action. Help us hold Primark to account.

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'Kill off Doha' trade warning

26 November 2009, Press releases

NEWS PEGS

  • Saturday, 28 November Geneva Anti-globalisation demonstration just before world trade ministers' summit
  • Monday, 30 November-Wednesday, 2 December 2009 Geneva World Trade Organisation ministerial talks
  • Monday, 30 November Tenth anniversary of protests at the global trade meeting, Seattle

WTO deal 'threatens millions of jobs'

Campaigners today warn that millions more people face poverty and unemployment if the current round of world trade negotiations are carried through to their conclusion. The alert comes from the anti-poverty charity War on Want as trade ministers prepare for the World Trade Organisation's summit in Geneva from Monday (30 November).

The summit marks the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the WTO summit in Seattle, where protestors and developing countries fought off pressure for a new trade round. Although the WTO launched a fresh round of negotiations in Doha two years later, those talks have collapsed again and again as wealthy nations have tried to force their free market agenda on developing countries while refusing to make meaningful cuts in their own farm subsidies.

War on Want executive director John Hilary said: "The WTO has failed to deliver. No amount of wishful thinking will transform it into a body that can offer solutions to the challenges facing our planet today. The Doha round should be abandoned without further delay, and a new process put in train to undo the damage already done by the WTO."

War on Want challenges recent claims made by WTO director general Pascal Lamy that concluding the Doha round will benefit poor people. According to the charity's research, completing the round would put 7.5 million workers at risk in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Tunisia and Uruguay, and millions more in other countries. It also cites a World Bank study which shows 80% of gains from the Doha round will go to high-income economies, and that the six countries of China, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Argentina and Brazil will reap almost all the rest. According to the charity, academic assessments now concur that the poorest countries will lose out as a result of the Doha round.

War on Want notes the global call for the immediate suspension of the WTO's financial services negotiations, which aim to further liberalise and deregulate financial markets despite wide opinion that such liberalisation has been a primary cause of the present crisis. War on Want also points to the commission set up by the United Nations under former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz, which has called for existing WTO restrictions on financial market regulation to be repealed.

War on Want's partners in the international farmers' movement have demanded a complete end to the WTO's agricultural negotiations, which threaten rural development and the livelihoods of small-scale farmers the world over. War on Want says the environmental case for halting the Doha round is just as urgent, with the "business as usual" approach advocated by the WTO sure to wipe out any gains from progress at the Copenhagen climate summit.

 


NOTES TO EDITORS

  • War on Want trade campaigns officer Dave Tucker will take part in the protest organised by Our World Is Not For Sale and Seattle to Brussels at 2.00 pm GMT on Saturday (28 November) in Place Neuve, rue de Hesse 8, 1204 Geneva
  • Dave can be reached in Geneva from tomorrow (Friday, 26 November) until Wednesday, 2 December on (+44) (0)7906 756863
  • War on Want executive director John Hilary can be reached in Geneva on Monday (30 November) and Tuesday (1 December) on (+44) (0)7983 550727
  • War on Want's research can be found here
  • The World Bank study can be downloaded here

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

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Time to kill off Doha

26 November 2009, Comment is Free

Pascal Lamy is wrong: the Doha round of talks offers nothing to the world's poorest countries. The WTO has failed to deliver

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TUC Women’s Committee steps up for Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops

22 November 2009, Latest news

We've built up a national profile for our campaign with thousands of backers from across the UK - and the globe. And we've just gained some more, as the TUC Women's Committee gave us its endorsement.

The TUC Women's Committee is made up of members elected at the annual TUC Women's Conference as well as General Council members. The Committee advises the TUC General Council, and campaigns for women's equality in the UK and overseas.

Gender discrimination was a focus area of our Fashion Victims line of research, which underpins the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign. In Bangladesh, whose sweatshops supply top UK fashion brands, the vast majority of garment workers are women and they are disproportionately subjected to verbal and physical abuse, as well as typically earning less than male workers.

You can take a stand for the rights of women workers in Bangladesh by joining our call for government regulation of the global fashion industry. Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops is only as strong as its supporters - that's why we need your backing as well. Sign up here.

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War on Want launches student photo award

19 November 2009, Latest news

The Document photo award will honour the nation's top student photographers

War on Want has teamed up with key industry professionals and graphic designers to launch Document, a student photography award focusing on global poverty issues. The award, which is currently accepting submissions, asks student from across the UK to depict poverty through landscapes, still lifes or a series of portraits.

Winners will be selected by an expert panel which includes Roger Tooth, head of photography for The Guardian, Stephen Ledger Lomas, photographic director of Dazed & Confused magazine and Lauren Heinz, Editor Foto 8 Magazine. Chairing the panel will be Conrad Tracey from Arts University College at Bournemouth.

All of the shortlisted entries will be exhibited at a central London viewing on 21 - 28 January, with additional dates to be scheduled for Nottingham and Bournemouth.

The award seeks photographic representations of poverty, with a focus on the financial crisis and its impact worldwide. Students are encouraged to uncover the cross-border integration that defines our current economic system, where the decisions taken in the City of London and Wall Street have far-reaching consequences for communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For more information on the award, including on how to enter, visit Document's dedicated website.

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Swap-a-rama razzmatazz!

18 November 2009, Previous events

Shoreditch revellers danced the night away at a Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops themed swap-a-rama at Favela Chic in London.

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Guilt-free shopping at War on Want

15 November 2009, Latest news

We face an impossible choice every Christmas. Either pay a small fortune for ethically produced gifts, or shop at high street chains that exploit workers.

Now there's an alternative. At War on Want's online shop you can buy great gifts without paying through the nose. Our signature item this year is our brand new Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops tops. Stylish and affordable, these trendy t-shirts for men and women are a great gift for those friends and family members with a political conscience. But they're selling fast, so make sure to pick one up before it's too late.

As always, we have a range of other gifts on offer, including our always in demand line of Christmas cards. This year's selection includes our ever popular Palestine card, which depicts the Three Wise Men tunnelling under the Separation Wall to reach Bethlehem. We also have available our full range of stocking-stuffers, from wool hats to canvas bags, travel card holders to bottle openers.

If you want to buy a truly unique present, then one of our alternative gifts. For just £10 you can help promote peace in Palestine. Or for £20 you can support a grassroots organisation fighting to improve working conditions in South Africa. Check out our full list of gifts here.

All of these gifts go towards our work fighting poverty in partnership with groups on the ground across the developing world.

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Your words ruin Primark’s big day

11 November 2009, Previous events

This morning, we were outside Primark's new store in North London demanding that the retailer end its exploitation of workers overseas.

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Don't let a backlash knock out Tobin tax

09 November 2009, Comment is Free

Gordon Brown has added to the momentum pushing for a tax on global financial transactions. But the battle is far from won

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Primark’s dirty laundry

09 November 2009, Latest news

Things are looking good for Primark. The UK's top retailer announced £2.3 billion in annual sales, and is opening new stores across the UK - and is growing in Europe as well.

How has Primark managed to prosper during the economic meltdown? The answer is simple - and alarming. The company, like many other retailers, cuts down production costs by sourcing its clothing from sweatshop labour overseas. We want them to know that this is unacceptable - and that we demand it end now.

This Thursday we'll be at Wood Green for the opening of Primark's latest store, staging a protest against the company's exploitative labour practices. We'll be outside the store with a washing line full of dirty laundry to remind Primark how their unethical practices harm workers around the world.

But we'll need a big turnout to make sure our message is heard loud and clear.

If you're in London this Thursday, please do join us in letting Primark know that we find their labour practice unconscionable. And if you can't make it to the rally, take a moment to let Primark know exactly how you feel by writing a short message, which we'll display at the rally.

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United in struggle

09 November 2009, Latest news

On 24-25 October 2009, War on Want partner the Alternative Information Centre (AIC) and the Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI) held a two-day conference in Bethlehem called ‘United in Struggle against Israeli Colonialism, Occupation and Racism'. War on Want volunteer Sirine Rached attended the conference and reports back on its findings and impact on future strategies.

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New London store faces Primark storm

09 November 2009, Press releases

NEWS PEG: Thursday, 12 November 2009 Primark opens its new London store

‘7p an hour sweatshop' factories spark protest
PICTURE/INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY

WHAT?
As Britain's leading cheap fashion retailer launches a new London store, campaigners hang out Primark's "dirty washing" in public with a clothes line which cites poverty wages for its garment workers

WHY?
The charity War on Want says Bangladeshi workers making Primark clothes earn as little as 7p an hour

WHEN?
9.00 am GMT, Thursday 12 November 2009

WHERE?
Unit 57, The Mall, Wood Green Shopping City, High Road, London N22 6YQ


As Primark's new London store opens Thursday (12 November), anti-poverty campaigners will hang out the retailer's "dirty washing" in public with a clothes line that cites workers making its clothes for as little as 7p an hour.

The charity War on Want will stage a demonstration amid the store launch days after Primark announced a massive 20 per cent jump in sales to £2.3 billion for the year to 12 September and profits up 8 per cent to £252 million. It will compare Primark's growth with declining living standards among garment workers on poverty wages for up to 80-hour weeks in three Bangladeshi factories. The charity will also contrast the Wood Green store's 75,000 square feet on two floors with the tiny one-room slum homes Primark garment workers share with four or five family members.

War on Want campaigner Seb Klier said: ""Primark has just reported huge sales and profits. But for many Bangladeshis producing its clothes their grim living standards are falling even lower as costs rise. It is high time Gordon Brown introduced regulation to stop this abuse."

The charity is targeting the store opening in north London to step up the biggest-ever call for British government action to stop fashion retailers exploiting overseas workers. Thousands of people have already signed up to the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign for 50,000 names demanding that Brown regulates the industry.

Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops is also endorsed by television star Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen and clothes designer Betty Jackson. Among other backers are TV personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew.

Supportive public figures include Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, the UK's largest trade union, Mary Turner, president of the GMB union, Queen's Counsel Michael Mansfield, the leading human rights lawyer, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John Pilger and cartoonist Martin Rowson.


NOTE TO EDITORS

According to War on Want research, workers making clothes for Primark in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka received on average only £19.16 (2280 taka) a month, under half a living wage. Some employees were paid only the minimum wage, £13.97 (1663 taka) a month, far less than the £44.82 (5333 taka) needed to escape dire hardship. The vast majority of employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities. Though forced overtime is illegal in Bangladesh, employees said they were made to toil extra hours, often unpaid. Workers complained that in the fast fashion rush to produce the latest styles, many of them suffered verbal and physical abuse as they struggled to meet unrealistic targets. Yet the Dhaka workers said none of their factories was unionised. Ifat, who toils in a factory supplying all three retailers, said: "I can't feed my children three meals a day."

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

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G20 counter-conferences look for a way forward

06 November 2009, Previous events

On 7 November, as ministers from the richest 20 countries in the world met in St Andrews to discuss the financial crisis, Put People First campaigners including War on Want staged two counter-conferences in London and St Andrews itself.

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Primark soars, but at what cost?

05 November 2009, Comment is Free

The economic downturn is clearly good news for the retailer. Maybe now it can afford to turn its ethical pledges into reality

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